Early October, 1919, saw a dozen submarine chasers in drydock at Devonport, England, preparing for the first convoy back to the U.S. of vessels that had served in minesweeping operations in the North Sea.
As there were larger vessels available, and ASW operations wouldn't be needed on the return journey as had been the case on their earlier voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, each chaser was assigned to be towed by a minesweeper. On the base of the forward deck gun of each chaser was mounted a towing bitt. The hulls were repaired and sealed, and the crews cleaned out the boats to ready them for the journey home.
Mid-October the first convoy had reached Lisbon, and after a short stay to replenish supplies, they headed for the Azores, making an average speed of 14.6 knots, but hampered at times by broken tow lines.
In letters home, Lt. Dole of SC 354 describes their time at Ponta Delgada as a pleasant interlude before the main leg of the journey: "Sure am getting my fill of pineapples, mangoes and grapes,”* Lt. Dole writes, looking forward to a morning swim, and anticipating the next stop, Bermuda.
* From Hunters of the Steel Sharks, the Submarine Chasers of WWI, page 169.
Todd Woofenden, editor
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